We came back from S. Africa 3 years ago now…May of 2010.
I was really looking forward to coming home, because of just that. It felt like HOME (in my head!).
We’d come back & forth a few times, & it always felt like a sweet reunion & homecoming.
Tho there were some bits of that this time as well, it also felt strikingly different.
I won’t get too into any of the details, but I will tell you that something felt “off”.
Had we changed? Had they changed? Could people not really “handle” the back & forth; the “We’re here! We’re not here!” cross-continental game of tag…
Regardless of the answer, people simply felt “absent” to me upon our return. They were there, but they weren’t there. There was this new “busy”-factor that had seemed to become so prominent. And, to top it off, EVERYONE HAD A SMARTPHONE! And, not only did everyone have one; they were ALWAYS on it! Head. Buried. In. It!
Hello?! Hello?! Is anyone there in the flesh?! It was strikingly/blatently obvious to me. And, it all left me with a “deadness”/detachment taste in my mouth. I felt quite shocked, to say the least.
3 years in, I hate to say it, but the phenomenon seems to be only worsening??
We lived with people when we first got back, which was GREAT! We’re not your typical family of 4 that Wants to be nuclear. The MORE the MERRIER! Bring it on! In fact, even within these contexts, we felt like we were rallying & cheering for yet More engagement. MORE dinner parties, unprompted. MORE spontaneous playing with our babies. MORE lengthy/cozy conversations on the kitchen floor.
In tandem with all of these observations & feelings, I’ve noticed myself really resonating with all the recent research/studies on HAPPINESS, along with many of the thoughts & philosophies of yogis, young entrepreneurs, & life coaches. All with an emphasis on QUALITY of Life, genuine COMMUNITY/engagement, Health, Work/Life Balance, aka: Doing What you Love, Getting enough outdoors time, really thinking about why you’re doing what you’re doing: out of fear & panic, because you’re simply just wearing your suit & following the societal wayward movements, &/or because you are Super Stoked.
All of these thoughts are all Totally intertwined with my “25-year long” (give or take!) project (aka: PlayJumpEat), which is in a hiatus status right now. Quickly, when I first started that, I think I felt a bit more “cheeky”, almost dancing/interacting with the random, everyday stranger in my “dialogue”…”Hey random guy in a suit! Can you feel your pulse?! What gets you super jazzed?! Are you doing it?! Do you Want to do it?! Either way, come jump on my bed!”.
Now, I feel there’s been a deeper layer dug, & it’s become a little more “personal”, so to speak. i.e., I feel like I’ve seen too many people I know “fade away”. They’re there, but are they?! Is there anyone in there?! (the latest question is: Do I keep knocking?!). Here’s a bit what I mean.
The fact that the super-fundamentalist church blatantly tried to take away “life”, if you will: music, dancing, women’s voices, one’s own critical-thinking mind, feels like it is happening again now to society via WORK. “How are you?”. You know the answer, right? Do you know it? “BUSY”. That’s the answer! Across the board. Busyness. Poor economy, creating a huge shift in the “haves/have-nots”, making all the even upper-middle class feel like they are treading water just to maintain an “average” lifestyle. No offense in particular as I say this grossly/broadly, yet I think somewhere very truthfully as a whole what I see is: Agendas. Kids in 6 programs after school. Playdates. Facebook. Who needs a real friend when you can stalk people & have a falsely satisfying sense of community at your fingertips?! Driving kids everywhere. “Over”-entertaining them, largely due to the “need” to make up somehow for all the time away from them (instead of letting them explore & PLAY freely amongst themselves like we all used to do!). Sending them to institutions where they too can learn to regurgitate information so that they can score high on government-mandated tests, so that they can get a job, so that they too can be busy.
?!*#! “Life”. the LIFE! I see/feel it being robbed from our society right in front of me, & I am fighting like hell to try to give my kids what I got: a totally carefree existence, naked in the Slip n Slide. It’s my objective every morning. (hence the delay on the “25-year” project!)…
There’s only “so much” you can do though?!, to live a “non-busy” life amongst the busy?! I mean, believe me, I CANNOT “succombe” to this madness. But, it saddens me, because tho I would jump at the chance, I haven’t managed to find the “pause” much-less “stop” button to put on the at-large pandemonium, much less on my circle of friend’s never-ending feast of schedules!
I don’t mean to make anyone “feel bad” for having a demanding job, going to public school (like us!), signing up for gymnastics (like us!), or even for “being busy” per se in these modern days/times. I guess it’s just a shout-out to at least once in awhile do an inhale/exhale & remember that our passions, our friends, the ocean, our kids; a renewed perspective & a much more simple life sits right there at our side, quietly, at any moment, willingly longing to RECONNECT.
Sending lightness, love, & a Slip n Slide-spirit out there to this current “tantrum” of society. Ahhhhhh. Deep Exhale for the people! I soo look forward to my upcoming trip to the Mid-West where I will likely spend most of my time in a kayak. (one part of the States that might still be on that “1980’s” agenda). God bless ’em!